Browns Make Final Call on Signing Joe Flacco

The Cleveland Browns will not be bringing back Joe Flacco.

Getty Images The Cleveland Browns will not be bringing back Joe Flacco.

The Cleveland Browns will not be bringing back Joe Flacco after his magical run last season filling in for Deshaun Watson.

The Browns have agreed to terms with former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston to back up Watson. The deal is worth up to $8.7 million, per Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report. That almost surely means that Flacco is now out of the mix.

Flacco appeared poised to come back to Cleveland, especially after the first wave of quarterback moves. Jacoby Brissett — another highly regarded veteran by the Browns — signed a deal to return to the New England Patriots. But the plan changed once the interest in Winston was uncovered. Ultimately, the Browns went with the younger option, who is also a better skill set fit behind Watson.

“One league source said the Winston signing would make sense because he’s a great locker room guy, has plenty of experience and would be able to help Watson on and off the field,” Mary Kay Cabot of wrote on Tuesday, March 12. “Another said Winston has matured a lot over the past couple of years since he’s gotten married and had a family, and will be a good influence.”

Winston has passed for 22,104 yards, 141 touchdowns and 99 interceptions in his career. He has a 34-46 record as a starter and made the Pro Bowl in 2015 as a rookie. Winston was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. He’s spent the last four seasons with the Saints, mostly as a backup.

Browns Called Out for Spurning Joe Flacco

The Browns and Joe Flacco had expressed interest in a reunion.

Getty ImagesThe Browns and Joe Flacco had expressed interest in a reunion.

The move to go with Winston over Flacco has been dubbed by many as a controversial one. The Browns and Flacco expressed mutual interest in a reunion after his successful 4-1 stint last season.

“I can tell you that, all things equal, Cleveland is definitely the place that I would feel best about,” Flacco said during an interview on Sirius XM on Wednesday, March 6.

Longtime Browns insider Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland was shocked by the move to go with Winston over Flacco.

Were they spooked by Flacco’s interceptions at the end of the year? Well, they’re signing the guy who has the highest interception rate among active quarterbacks in his career, Jameis Winston. it can’t be the interceptions,” Grossi said on ESPN Cleveland on Tuesday. “Are they bringing in a guy who is a little bit younger because they can’t trust Flacco over a longer period of time? Well, they keep telling us Watson is going to be perfectly healthy, so why would you expect your backup quarterback to need to play a lot of games? It can’t be that. Are they bringing in a winner? Look at his career win-loss record (34-46). What other explanation is there? I’m totally flabbergasted. I’m trying to recollect the last time the Browns did something this inexplicable. I can’t see the logic in it.”

Browns May be Protecting Deshaun Watson With Joe Flacco Signing

The Browns may have sidestepped some controversy by not bringing back Joe Flacco.

Getty ImagesThe Browns may have sidestepped some controversy by not bringing back Joe Flacco.

Flacco recorded a 4-1 record with the Browns last season after signing in late November. He passed for over 300 yards in four straight games and tossed 13 touchdown passes. But his time with the Browns ended with a thud. Flacco, the Comeback Player of the Year, tossed a pair of interceptions for touchdowns in a 45-14 Wild Card beatdown against the Houston Texans.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk speculated earlier this offseason that the Browns might have privately preferred to move on from Flacco to avoid unnecessary controversy.

“They don’t need those Browns fans chanting ‘Flacco, Flacco, Flacco’ any time Deshaun Watson throws an incomplete pass,” Florio said. “If you get the truth from the people who run the show, they’d probably like to just say thanks for the memories and move on. If I’m Andrew Berry, I’m probably hoping someone comes along and offers him something we can’t.”

Cabot said that Winston “likes Winston a lot” but would have also been excited to work with Flacco in the QB room.
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